Located at the Virginia Beach Airport in the Pungo section of Virginia Beach, VA, an aircraft facility sits quietly among the grass landing strip and farm land maintaining and working on some of the most unique aircraft in the world. The Fighter Factory is the restoration and maintenance facility of the Military Aviation Museum, more on this later. The Fighter Factory maintains and restores WWI, WWII, and some aircraft from the Korean War.
Some of the aircraft the Fighter Factory maintains in flying status are, Spitfire, Hurricane, Mustang, Corsair, Curtiss, Wildcat, Hawker, Fury, Peashooter, Yak, four Polikarpovs, B-17 Flying Fortress, B-25J, Skyraider, Avenger, Sopwith, Fokker, Catalina, Dragon Rapide, and many more. With over 50 flying vintage aircraft to maintain the Fighter Factory is a very busy place!
When I visited the Fighter Factory recently one of the projects was the removal and replacement of a large radial engine from one of the most successful German aircraft of WWII: the Focke-Wulf Fw190. This aircraft along with the BF109 was the backbone of the Jadwaffe. The nickname for this aircraft was the “Butcher Bird” and it had much success especially against Soviet ground troops.
Shvetsov Asch-82t engine change
The Fw190m at the Fighter Factory was slated to get a newly overhauled Shvetsov Asch-82t powerplant from Vintage Radial located in Tehachapi, CA. This shop is an FAA certified repair station that specializes in overhaul of radial engines. The Asch-82t is a beast of an engine with 14 cylinders in a double radial construction. It is an air-cooled four-stroke aircraft engine with a blower and mechanical fuel injection system.
The ignition system has two independent ignition magnetos with one spark plug per magneto per cylinder. High voltage is accomplished by these two magnetos, attached to the front casing and they are driven by cogwheels from the propeller shaft. Electrical power is fed from the cap of the ignition timer of the magnetos to the spark plugs, shielded against humidity and mechanical damage protecting the ignition cables. The left magneto is connected to the rear spark plugs and the right magneto is connected to the front spark plugs of both rows of cylinders.
If there was an ignition problem it would not likely lead to a complete failure of the engine, since both magnetos work independently. The fuel supply to the injection pump is performed by a fuel pump located on the right side of the blower casing. The fuel injection pump is located on the rear cover of the engine which uses high pressure tubes and fuel nozzles to deliver fuel into the cylinders. This radial has 1,900 horsepower at 2,600 rpm.
Removing the old powerplant and replacing it with this newly overhauled motor takes time and educating yourself before wrenches are ever used. The point man for this project was Jeffrey May and he explained to me how he attacks a task like this.
His first step was to read all the required information he can but he also takes tons of digital pictures of the original radial installed on the aircraft. By doing this he always has points of references for this task and future jobs, he says.
Since this aircraft is a taildragger, a three-point sling with one point using the motor shaft for a pivot point was very helpful in keeping the engine at the correct angle for proper removal and installation. After the old radial was removed and before the new radial was installed some maintenance was performed. The oil system was purged, oil tank steamed, cleaned and flushed with solvent. Some baffling was fabricated along with a bracket to replace the overspeed governor not on the new engine.
While this maintenance was being performed, another A&P was busy prepping the new radial with spark plugs, accessories, and doing a quality inspection. After the final inspection on both the airframe and powerplant the installation process began.
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